You Won’t Recognize the Office of the Future
With some companies achieving well below 100 SF/employee, will we be too close for comfort in tomorrow’s offices? (We better learn to get along because soon we'll be sitting on each other's laps.) That's why downsizing has to be done efficiently, we learned at Bisnow’s Property Management & Office of the Future event.
More than 250 of you joined us last week at the Trump International Hotel & Tower, where our psychic first panel looked into a crystal ball (okay, it was a water glass) and predicted the future of office space.
Behringer Harvard VP Mike Reilly says the only way for building management to retain tenants is to help them improve efficiency. Research has also shown that only half of tenants like the idea of collaborative space, so remember your audience when designing spec suites, he says. Mike predicts high-tech furniture will be key in accommodating high-density users. He also shared with the audience his first job: baling hay.
Partner Engineering and Science, Inc (Partner) principal Bob Geiger, whose first job was as a parking lot attendant, says energy compliance will be an integral and publicized part of offices of the future. (Especially starting next June, when Chicago offices less than 250k SF in size will have to disclose their energy usage.) He sees energy efficiency discovery increasingly becoming a part of investors' due diligence, and sees huge potential for office owners with ComEd’s latest retro-commissioning (RCx) services express program. It's available to buildings as small as 150k SF (like many suburban offices) and offers 5% to 10% annual energy savings.
ESD VP Jason McCargo, a former blueberry picker, says desks are becoming less of a home base, citing a client that calls them “touchdown areas.” Working remotely will only become more widespread, he says, but it’s crucial that companies educate employees on the implications (cultural, privacy, security, health, etc.) of their miniaturized workspaces. (Not to mention the effects on power, HVAC, and other building equipment.) Commissioning is already required by current energy code for any new office space in Illinois. Jason expects that in addition to LEED V4, more stringent sustainability benchmarks like the WELL Building certification and Living Building Challenge will grow in popularity.
Today’s workforce is BYOD—Bring Your Own Device, MB Real Estate VP Sara Spicklemire tells us. (Her first job was babysitting at a health club.) The trick is to have a property (regardless of class) that engages with technology and doesn’t embed it, since what’s hot today will be out of vogue quicker than you can say “floppy disk.” Amenities continue to be a balancing act for owners, since they eat into rentable SF and can lead to higher loss factors. Looking ahead, Sara expects the younger workforce to push for shorter, more flexible lease terms.
Wright Heerema Architects principal Roger Heerema, who got his start as an errand boy at a bank, argues that building amenity packages are paramount given our increased mobility. While employees may have to put on headphones to get work done in an open office space (hence Spotify's rise), there are visual benefits, he says. Increased natural light improves your health, he says, and easy access to coworkers allows employees to take team work to collaborative spaces that are ideally less than 30 feet from any individual workstation.
Foresite Realty Partners CEO Don Shapiro, who moderated (and got his start serving fast food to the lunch crowd), says creative spaces might not be as freeing as you think. The option to work anywhere comes with the same personalities and office politics, meaning offices could encounter conflicts similar to student housing's, Don joked, with a line outside the RA’s door (in this case, HR) requesting roommate (deskmate) changes. Moving around isn’t all bad though, since “sitting is the new smoking,” one audience member pointed out.
During networking, we chatted with Bisnow sponsors Midwest Commercial Fitness president Rick Allen and territory manager Brian Fonseca. The Aurora-based firm provides new and used commercial fitness equipment and service to many downtown office buildings, Rick says, and it’s looking to expand its market around Chicago. He’s been in the fitness equipment biz since graduate school (with stints on the manufacturing side and in product development) and started up the firm in 1992. Learn more about Midwest Commercial Fitness here and check back for continued event coverage and photos tomorrow.